NEW YORK - In a coverage dispute over asbestos litigation costs, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 26 ordered an insurer and reinsurer to submit briefing concerning how a New York high court ruling applies to a reinsurance contract's per-occurrence liability cap (Global Reinsurance Corporation of America v. Century Indemnity Co., No. 15-2164, 2nd Cir.).
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Even though a toxicology expert's opinion on what level of pollutants causes health problems is contrary to federal and Kentucky law, it is still reliable enough to help a jury determine common-law liability, a Kentucky federal judge held Jan. 25 in declining to exclude the expert's testimony (Modern Holdings, LLC, et al. v. Corning, Inc., et al., No. 5:13-cv-00405, E.D. Ky., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11891).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Two restaurants affected by drinking water contamination litigation in West Virginia filed a brief in West Virginia federal court on Jan. 25, arguing that the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association (WVHTA) made no effort to determine if the restaurants were properly represented by counsel in decision to opt out of a $151 million class settlement, and now they want to be included (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1374, S.D. W.Va.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A company agreed to take on workers' compensation claims when it purchased a facility, and a widow's lung cancer claim falls within the list of compensable claims, even though some doctors concluded that asbestos was not a cause of the disease, West Virginia's top court held Jan. 25 (Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood v. Delores M. Ambro, et al., No. 17-0753, W.Va. Sup. App., 2018 W.Va. LEXIS 73).
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A Kentucky Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 26 affirmed summary judgment for a couple who owned a property and a couple who boarded their horse on a property in a premises liability suit in which a woman claimed that she was trampled by the horse after finding that the defendants did not owe the plaintiff a duty to protect her from the horse (Sarah Jane Groves, et al. v. John Woods Sr., et al., No. 2016-CA-001546, Ky. App., 2018 Ky. App. LEXIS 59).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A man's recollection of work on airplanes and limited recall of asbestos-product manufacturers are not enough to overcome summary judgment, a federal magistrate judge in Delaware held in recommending summary judgment for six defendants (In re: Asbestos Litigation, John DeCastro, et al. v. Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., et al., No. 16-951, D. Del., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12104).
NEW ORLEANS - Work constructing or maintaining continental shelf platforms, and resulting asbestos exposures, is enough to keep a case in federal court, a Louisiana federal judge held Jan. 24 in denying remand (Frederico Lopez v. McDermott Inc., et al., No. 17-8977, E.D. La.).
NEW YORK - The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on Jan. 24 sued EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in a New York federal court, alleging that he violated federal law when he issued a directive barring qualified scientists from serving on the agency's advisory committees that provide recommendation on safe drinking water and other environmental issues (Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. v. Scott Pruitt, No. 18-613, S.D. N.Y.).
ATLANTA - A panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 25 found that a trial court did not err in an Engle progeny suit by denying a tobacco company's motion to reduce compensatory damages to the widower of a woman who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (James Smith Sr. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 13-14316, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1916).
LANSING, Mich. - A divided panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals on Jan. 25 ruled that a lower court did not err when it determined that genuine issues of material fact exist in a lawsuit brought by residents who sued the state and local defendants alleging liability for lead contamination related to the Flint water crisis (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Governor Rick Snyder, et al., No. 335555, Melissa Mays, et al. v. Governor Rick Snyder, et al., No. 335725, Melissa Mays, et al. v. Governor Rick Snyder, et al., No. 335726, Mich. App., 2018 Mich. App. LEXIS 201).
PHOENIX - An Arizona jury on Jan. 23 heard opening arguments in which attorneys sparred over whether CertainTeed Corp. asbestos-containing cement pipe was present at the locations where a pipe fitter worked cutting that pipe (Francisco Herrera, et al. v. CertainTeed Corp., et al., No. CV2014-009632, Ariz. Super., Maricopa Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Environmental advocacy groups on Jan. 23 filed a brief in California federal court arguing that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's decision to amend the Methane Waste Prevention Rule, which pertains to methane contamination by hydraulic fracturing companies, is "the second illegal step" in his "three step plan to ensure that oil and gas companies never have to comply with the duly promulgated" rule (Sierra Club, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-7187, N.D. Calif.).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge in Georgia on Jan. 23 denied motions for summary judgment filed by two companies arguing that 14 lawsuits for personal injuries and property damage caused by the operation of a pipe-making facility are time-barred, holding that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) commencement date could be applied to the plaintiffs' claims (William Abner v. United States Pipe & Foundry Co., No. 15-cv-02040-KOB, N.D. Ala., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10146).
HAMMOND, Ind. - The city of Chicago on Jan. 24 sued U.S. Steel Corp. in an Indiana federal court, contending that it is liable for "multiple excessive discharges of toxic chemicals" into Lake Michigan, which is the source of drinking water for more than 5 million people and arguing that U.S. Steel has committed "repeated and significant" violations of its permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1251-1387 (City of Chicago v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 18-33, N.D. Ind.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An Oklahoma appellate court's "indefensible" ruling in an asbestos case merely continues the state's disregard for U.S. Supreme Court precedent on the issue of jurisdiction, a company told the nation's top court Jan. 23 (Murco Wall Products Inc. v. Michael D. Galier, No. 17-733, U.S. Sup.).
DELAND, Fla. - A jury in Florida on Jan. 24 found in favor of a tobacco company in an Engle progeny suit in which a woman claimed that her husband was addicted to cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and that his addiction was the cause of his oral cavity cancer and death (Dorothy Mae Kelsey v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007 33215 CICI, Fla. 7th Jud. Cir., Volusia Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVALABLE.
BOSTON - A First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 24 affirmed the dismissal of two lawsuits brought by environmental groups against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, holding that the agency's approval of total maximum discharge limits (TMDLs) of stormwater for bodies of water in Rhode Island and Massachusetts did not trigger a duty to provide notice to potential dischargers (Conservation Law Foundation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nos. 17-1166, 17-1354, 1st Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1734).
PITTSBURGH - Glass manufacturer PPG Industries Inc. on Jan. 22 filed a status report in a Pennsylvania federal court regarding its ongoing permitting activities pertaining to remedies for areas that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has determined are contaminated by PPG's manufacturing activities (PennEnvironment, et al. v. PPG Industries Inc., et al. v. AS America Inc., et al., No. 12-342, W.D. Pa.).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - In an unpublished opinion issued Jan. 23, a panel of the Third District Michigan Court of Appeals ordered that a suit over a tobacco manufacturing license being revoked be remanded to a lower court for further proceedings because there is a still a question over whether a manufacturer without a license can be on a list of manufacturers who did not make a settlement with the state (Grand River Enterprises Six Nations LTD. v. Department of Treasury, et al., No. 335170, Mich. App., 3rd Dist., 2018 Mich. App. LEXIS 168).
NEW ORLEANS - Claims that a shipyard mishandled the asbestos the U.S. Navy mandated it use allege negligence and escape removal under the federal office removal statute, a federal judge in Louisiana held Jan. 19 (Melancon v. Lamorak Ins. Co., No. 17-12367, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8765).
DOVER, Del. - Attorneys for two chemical companies and those representing a class of plaintiffs on Jan. 17 debated before the Delaware Supreme Court the question of whether a long-standing class action related to alleged injuries from chemical exposure on banana plantations was still active (Luis Antonio Aguilar Marquinez, et al., v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 231, 2017, Del. Sup.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The guardian ad litem in a class action lawsuit brought by West Virginia residents against a supplier of drinking water on Jan. 19 issued a report in which he said the $151 million settlement in the case is "fair and adequate" (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1374, S.D. W.Va.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Viewed in favor of the nonmoving party, evidence supports the conclusion that Crane Co. knew of the dangers posed by asbestos and cooperated with the U.S. Navy to conceal that danger from serviceman, a widow told a Delaware federal judge on Jan. 19 in defending her civil conspiracy claim against the company (Marguerite MacQueen v. Warren Pumps LLC, et al., No. 13-831, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206223).
BOSTON - A panel of Massachusetts Supreme Court judges on Jan. 19 reinstated a condominium association's lawsuit against a city that previously used the site as a landfill, finding that the association's lawsuit was timely (Grand Manor Condominium Association v. City of Lowell, No. SJC-12294, Mass. Sup., 2018 Mass. LEXIS 15).
SAN FRANCISCO - Hydraulic fracturing trade groups filed a brief in California federal court on Jan. 16 arguing that decision by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to amend the compliance deadlines for what is known as the methane waste prevention rule was valid. The groups oppose the motion for preliminary injunction sought by environmental advocacy groups on grounds that it is "an extraordinary remedy" (Sierra Club, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-7187, N.D. Calif.).